Emergency Services for Your Pet

Sometimes our pets need urgent care for illness, injury or other unexpected health problems. An emergency veterinarian can help your furry friend get on the road to recovery.

What is a Small Animal Veterinary Emergency?

Vet emergency and critical care is a specialty that was designed to specifically save a small animal’s life. Our pets have become so important to us, and so it is natural to want to save their life in a medical emergency. 

A vet who is trained in this discipline is dedicated to treating any life-threatening conditions that may arise with your small animal. If your pet should ever become injured or all of a sudden develop an acute health condition, they will need the immediate care of a qualified veterinarian. In addition to emergency treatment, several days may be required for the disease process to run its usual course before recovery starts to happen. While this may be stressful for both the pet owner and the pet themselves, close monitoring and life support precautions may be necessary. 

A dedicated team led by a vet who is trained in emergency medicine is crucial and will improve the quality of care your pet receives during the treatment and recovery process, thus improving their chance of a successful outcome.

Should I go to the Emergency Veterinarian?

There is oftentimes a difference between taking your pet to the clinic and to an emergency vet. The latter is oftentimes open after-hours, and in larger towns and cities, may even be open 24 hours a day. This is especially helpful for pet owners who need to take their furry friends to see a vet in the middle of the night. The downside to this, of course, is that these types of veterinarians tend to be more expensive, as they offer services in an urgent care capacity.

So How do You Know when Your Pet Needs Urgent, Emergency Care? 

Always have the phone number handy of your regular veterinarian, as well as an emergency vet, if one is conveniently close to you. When in doubt, always call one or both to find out if your pet does indeed need urgent care. But by and large, depending on the situation, and if you know the regular behaviors of your pet, you may be able to make that decision on your own, saving you and your pet precious time.

Having said that, here are some common reasons why you should seek emergency care for your pet:

  • If you believe your pet may have eaten something poisonous
  • Urinary obstruction (if your pet hasn’t urinated for more than a day, or whines when trying to urinate)
  • Severe trauma, including being hit by a car, bites, burns or weapon injuries
  • Difficulty breathing/wheezing/choking
  • Signs of shock (weakness, cold extremities, pale mucous membranes in their mouth, irregular heartbeat)
  • Loss of appetite for more than two days
  • Collapse or severe seizures
  • Vet patients who have had surgery and are not recovering well or are having any trouble within the first few days, post-surgery

Having to give your pet emergency care is never fun, but knowing these signs will give you the basic knowledge to know when to seek out this type of care and hopefully save your pet’s life.


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American Veterinary Medical Association World Small Animal Veterinary Association AAVMC